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Latest Featured Reports | Monday, August 3, 2020
'Election Cyber Surge' Launches Not a Moment Too Soon: 'BradCast' 8/3/20
Guest: Maya Worman of U. of Chicago Harris Cyber Policy Initiative says help is on the way!; Also: Trump facing big trouble in NY; Callers ring in on the VEEPStakes...
Sunday 'Delaying the Inevitable' Toons
Distract yourself with PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best political toons...
FEC Complaint: Trump Camp Running $170M 'Laundering' Scheme: 'BradCast' 7/31/20
Guest: CLC's Brendan Fischer on yet another extraordinary Trump grift; Also: Stop cowering at his wannabe dictator tweets!...
Monopoly Money:
'BradCast' 7/30/20
Guest: David Dayen on the 'incredible' anti-trust hearing in the House and his new book 'Monopolized'; Also: Cain dies of COVID; Trump tries to distract from newly disastrous economic numbers; Rep. Lewis laid to rest...
'Green News Report' 7/30/20
  w/ Brad & Desi
Trump in TX to expand fossil fuel exports, lie about Biden; Very good news for clean, renewable energy in U.S.; PLUS: Ag officials alarmed by 'mystery seeds' in the mail...
Previous GNRs: 7/28/20 - 7/23/20 - Archives...
Conspiracies. Real Ones.:
'BradCast' 7/29/20
Dark money behind anti-mask, pro-chloriquine movement; White supremacist provocateurs behind BLM 'riots'; Also: COVID conspiracist Gohmert has COVID...
Local TV Goliath Sinclair Shamed Into Nixing COVID Disinfo: 'BradCast' 7/28/20
Guest: Media Matters' Zachary Pleat; Also: If MLB can't avoid COVID, how will schools?; Trump's Fauci envy...
'Green News Report' 7/28/20
Two hurricanes in two states over one weekend; CA plugs in world's largest battery; PLUS: Trump Admin takes major step toward approving controversial Alaska mine...
From The Global Coronavirus Epicenter of Miami Beach: 'BradCast' 7/27/20
Guest-host Nicole Sandler with Miami Beach, FL Mayor Dan Gelber and healthcare advocate Laura Packard...
Sunday 'Cognitively Fascist' Toons
Power up with PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best political toons!...
'RECOUNTED' with Ari Berman, Chuck Collins: 'BradCast' 7/24/20
On safeguarding the 2020 election and on our worsening economic inequality...
Philly DA Vows Arrest of Trump's Fed 'Thugs' if They Break State Law - But Should He?
Ernie Canning on measuring the risks of such an escalation by local officials...
Reality Begins Setting in for the GOP; Chaos Continues for America: 'BradCast' 7/23/20
FL RNC cancelled; COVID at White House; Jobless claims keep breaking records; GOP in disarray over relief bill; Trump goons tear-gas Portland mayor; Much more!...
'Green News Report' 7/23/20
OH GOP House Speaker arrested for bribery in utility conspiracy; Gonzalo breaks new record in historic 2020 hurricane season; PLUS: Burger King cuts the methane...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

Criminal GOP Voter Registration Fraud Probe Expanding in VA
State investigators widening criminal probe of man arrested destroying registration forms, said now looking at violations of law by Nathan Sproul's RNC-hired firm...

DOJ PROBE SOUGHT AFTER VA ARREST
Arrest of RNC/Sproul man caught destroying registration forms brings official calls for wider criminal probe from compromised VA AG Cuccinelli and U.S. AG Holder...

Arrest in VA: GOP Voter Reg Scandal Widens
'RNC official' charged on 13 counts, for allegely trashing voter registration forms in a dumpster, worked for Romney consultant, 'fired' GOP operative Nathan Sproul...

ALL TOGETHER: ROVE, SPROUL, KOCHS, RNC
His Super-PAC, his voter registration (fraud) firm & their 'Americans for Prosperity' are all based out of same top RNC legal office in Virginia...

LATimes: RNC's 'Fired' Sproul Working for Repubs in 'as Many as 30 States'
So much for the RNC's 'zero tolerance' policy, as discredited Republican registration fraud operative still hiring for dozens of GOP 'Get Out The Vote' campaigns...

'Fired' Sproul Group 'Cloned', Still Working for Republicans in At Least 10 States
The other companies of Romney's GOP operative Nathan Sproul, at center of Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, still at it; Congressional Dems seek answers...

FINALLY: FOX ON GOP REG FRAUD SCANDAL
The belated and begrudging coverage by Fox' Eric Shawn includes two different video reports featuring an interview with The BRAD BLOG's Brad Friedman...

COLORADO FOLLOWS FLORIDA WITH GOP CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION
Repub Sec. of State Gessler ignores expanding GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, rants about evidence-free 'Dem Voter Fraud' at Tea Party event...

CRIMINAL PROBE LAUNCHED INTO GOP VOTER REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL IN FL
FL Dept. of Law Enforcement confirms 'enough evidence to warrant full-blown investigation'; Election officials told fraudulent forms 'may become evidence in court'...

Brad Breaks PA Photo ID & GOP Registration Fraud Scandal News on Hartmann TV
Another visit on Thom Hartmann's Big Picture with new news on several developing Election Integrity stories...

CAUGHT ON TAPE: COORDINATED NATIONWIDE GOP VOTER REG SCAM
The GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal reveals insidious nationwide registration scheme to keep Obama supporters from even registering to vote...

CRIMINAL ELECTION FRAUD COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST GOP 'FRAUD' FIRM
Scandal spreads to 11 FL counties, other states; RNC, Romney try to contain damage, split from GOP operative...

RICK SCOTT GETS ROLLED IN GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) sends blistering letter to Gov. Rick Scott (R) demanding bi-partisan reg fraud probe in FL; Slams 'shocking and hypocritical' silence, lack of action...

VIDEO: Brad Breaks GOP Reg Fraud Scandal on Hartmann TV
Breaking coverage as the RNC fires their Romney-tied voter registration firm, Strategic Allied Consulting...

RNC FIRES NATIONAL VOTER REGISTRATION FIRM FOR FRAUD
After FL & NC GOP fire Romney-tied group, RNC does same; Dead people found reg'd as new voters; RNC paid firm over $3m over 2 months in 5 battleground states...

EXCLUSIVE: Intvw w/ FL Official Who First Discovered GOP Reg Fraud
After fraudulent registration forms from Romney-tied GOP firm found in Palm Beach, Election Supe says state's 'fraud'-obsessed top election official failed to return call...

GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD FOUND IN FL
State GOP fires Romney-tied registration firm after fraudulent forms found in Palm Beach; Firm hired 'at request of RNC' in FL, NC, VA, NV & CO...
The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...


Guest: WI's John Nichols on a huge win for progressives in the Badger State amid last week's disastrous and dangerous GOP-forced election...
By Brad Friedman on 4/14/2020 6:58pm PT  

We catch up with a bit of listener mail at the top of today's BradCast before moving on to the huge story out of Wisconsin, where, according to results finally announced Monday night, a progressive-supported state Supreme Court candidate has apparently unseated a rightwing Scott Walker-appointed, Donald Trump-endorsed Justice following last Tuesday's disastrous and dangerous election in the Badger State. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

Judge Jill Karofsky reportedly trounced incumbent GOP-backed Justice Daniel Kelly by more than 10 points (or more than 163,000 votes of about 1.5 million cast) to win a 10 year term on the state Supreme Court. The stunning upset victory reduces the longtime rightwing partisan bent of the court from 5 to 2, to just 4 to 3, with a real chance to flip the court's balance to progressives in the state when the next seat either opens up for an appointment (with Democratic Governor Tony Evers having ousted the far-right Walker in 2018) or in the next Supreme Court retention election. The next such election is scheduled for 2023.

What makes Karofsky's win all the more remarkable, of course, is the horrific circumstances under which Republicans forced their own Wisconsin voters to the polls last week amid the global coronavirus pandemic. Republicans in the gerrymandered state legislature, along with the Republicans on the state Supreme Court and on the U.S. Supreme Court's stolen Republican majority all conspired to prevent the election from being postponed or changed to an all Vote-by-Mail election, despite Evers several attempts to do so in response to the COVID epidemic.

Hundreds of thousands of voters and poll workers were forced instead to choose between risking their lives to vote or having their votes suppressed, after tens of thousands of absentee ballots did not reach voters in time to be returned by the April 7th Election Day mandated by SCOTUS as the deadline. That, despite lower federal courts previously allowing for a 6-day extension for the return of absentee ballots, given the extraordinary circumstances. With the two Supreme Courts rulings, voters were forced to wait hours in line to cast in-person ballots in the April 7 election, with hundreds of polling sites closed, while enduring rain and hail and possible coronavirus infection to cast their votes, after Republicans decided that mandating an in-person election during a pandemic, while suppressing the votes of tens of thousands of absentee voters, was their only chance to maintain their 5 to 2 advantage on the state Supreme Court.

We're joined to talk about all of this victory amidst outrage today by WI native son and progressive journalist JOHN NICHOLS of The Nation and of Madison's Capital Times. He tells me that Karofsky's election in WI right now "is the biggest deal of anything we have talked about" on the show, adding that "you and I go back a long way."

He charges "the Republicans ginned up their entire voter suppression operation. They put it on 11. They went for everything they could" and then they "weaponized coronavirus", but were still unable to defeat the dedicated Wisconsin voters who delivered "a true rebuke of the people who tried to suppress the vote."

We discuss both the important victory on the state Supreme Court as well as several other contests where the GOP was rebuked, along with the stain of last week's election and what all of this means for Wisconsinites and Americans going forward. There are more than 20 states still to hold primaries in the months ahead. All 50 states must figure out how to hold the most critical Presidential election in our nation's history this November. And the desperate Republican Party is hoping to bring chaos to all of it.

If what happened in Wisconsin is any indication, the GOP may have their work cut out for them, however, this year. But, as we also discuss, they may even be willing to bring down the U.S. Postal Service to do it.

Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen with the latest Green News Report following deadly tornadoes in the South, wildfires now threatening Chernobyl, and some good news about yet another coal plant closure in Kentucky...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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Also: Trump dreaming about 're-opening'; Many waiting for checks that won't come; Some good news about Biden; And a happy ending...
By Brad Friedman on 4/10/2020 6:03pm PT  

What a week. We've got a lot to catch up with on today's BradCast, with much of it not good news at all. But we do try to offer a few bright spots along the way, and finish with a song, to make the stories you need to know about slightly less maddening. [Audio link to show follows below summary.]

Among the many stories covered on today's program...

  • Biden leads Trump by 11 points in a new NATIONAL poll taken before Sanders dropped out;
  • Tuesday's shameful, disastrous and, likely, deadly "shit show" of an election in Wisconsin --- with in-person voting forced in the middle of a global pandemic by Republicans in the state legislature, state Supreme Court and U.S. Supreme Court --- was even worse and more disenfranchising than previously known. Officials are now calling for an investigation from the U.S. Postal Service to explain why thousands of absentee ballots, many sent far in advance of Election Day, never arrived for many voters in Milwaukee, and as Republican state Sen. Dan Feyen now hypocritically wants an extension to vote for some voters in his district after several tubs of absentee ballots were discovered at a postal facility undelivered. (That, after he and his GOP colleagues in the state legislature repeatedly prevented a postponement of the election and applauded the SCOTUS ruling that prevented a 6-day extension for tens of thousands of voters to return their absentee ballots after having not even received them at all before the April 7 Election Day.);
  • And, in very related news, the U.S. Postal Service is now apparently on the brink of complete shutdown, as early as June, thanks to a decrease in mail delivery during the coronavirus pandemic. Democrats on Capitol Hill are begging for a short term bailout [PDF] for the quasi-independent federal agency that otherwise receives no tax-payer dollars. Republicans, however, blocked the effort to include $25 billion to save the USPS in the recent $2.2 Trillion emergency relief/corporate bailout CARES Act (which included $500 billion for private corporations). That, as millions rely on the USPS for prescription drugs and states across the country hope to rely on the Post Office for Vote-by-Mail primary elections in June and perhaps in all 50 states this November. Republicans also refused to include $4 billion needed to help states conduct elections during a pandemic, but they did include $400 million which, since there are few, if any, restrictions on that money, states are already using it for other things instead;
  • Finally, we end with a song and a laugh (cuz we really need both at the end of this week as much as you do), as Randy Rainbow plays us out with a tribute to his new favorite Governor...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Also: Petulant criminal Trump begins purge of Inspectors General...
By Brad Friedman on 4/7/2020 6:41pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Reprehensible and morally unjustifiable rulings by the Republican majorities on both the Wisconsin and U.S. Supreme Courts over the past 24 hours have resulted in tens of thousands of voters forced to choose between risking their lives to cast their ballots or face voter suppression today in Wisconsin. The GOP Justices on both courts now have blood on their hands. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

WI's Democratic Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes was being overly polite when he tweeted today: "Good morning and welcome to the Shit Show! Today's episode has been produced by the Supreme Court and directed by the incomparable Speaker and Senate Majority leader duo," before adding: "Buckle up, this one's sure to disappoint!" He was being too kind in his reference to the 4 to 2 party-line vote that yesterday evening overturned an Executive Order that would have postponed today's election in the Badger State until June, as issued by Democratic Governor Tony Evers. The case which blocked that order was brought to the state Supreme Court by GOP Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Leader Scott Fitzgerald, both representing "majorities" in their respective state chambers thanks to Republican gerrymandering that prevented Democrats from controlling the state legislature despite receiving more votes than Republicans.

The state court's decision assured that WI voters faced potential death if they chose to vote in person at polling places (if they could find one open) in the middle of a deadly pandemic on Tuesday. The immoral decision was made even worse by the stolen Republican majority on the U.S. Supreme Court who, even later last night, in an unsigned 5 to 4 opinion [PDF] overturned a lower federal court judge's ruling [PDF] which had allowed 6 extra days for voters to return absentee ballots, given that tens of thousands of state voters have yet to even receive theirs due to the influx of requests amid the pandemic. Somehow, those voters are supposed to postmark or return them by today to be counted, even though many won't even receive the ballots for days after the April 7 election. It was, as Slate's Mark Joseph Stern writes, "one of the most brazen acts of voter suppression in modern history."

Thus, tens of thousands of Wisconsin voters are now certain to be disenfranchised, thanks to the repugnant rulings by every Republican on both Courts. WI voters and those who know them may consider themselves lucky if voter suppression is the ONLY thing that happens to them after being forced to stand in lines that snaked for blocks and blocks (and blocks) before being forced to crowd into consolidated polling places for lack of poll workers willing to risk their own lives. (In Milwaukee, for example, instead of 182 polling places, there were just FIVE today.)

As you might imagine, my head has been repeatedly exploding over the past 24 hours. We describe on today's show what happened on Tuesday, why the state Supreme Court decided as they did (hint: it was to and ensure Republican majority control of the same state Supreme Court which issued this horrific ruling, for as far as the eye can see), why the U.S. Supreme Court decided as they did (hint: they invoked their absurd "Purcell Principle" in order to allow voter suppression to continue across the country this fall and beyond), and what all of this now horrendously portends for upcoming elections in the 20+ states which previously postponed their primaries due to the COVID-19 crisis and for the 50 states that will be running the most critical election in our nation's history --- pandemic or no pandemic --- this November 3rd.

None of this is a good sign for free and fair elections in a supposed representative democracy. All of it brings shame and disgrace to the GOP and their followers...if they are capable of either.

Then, as if everything else wasn't already bad enough, Donald Trump is now on a tear to purge independent Inspectors General from the U.S. Government, including even long time career officials and those he appointed himself, because he's an unstable, insecure, dishonest, criminally unfit, petulant little man-baby President. We tell the stories today of the Intelligence Community IG he fired late last Friday night for having followed the rule of law in reporting the whistleblower complaint to Congress during Trump's attempt to extort Ukraine to help him win this year's election; his new threats to and blatant lies about the Health and Human Services Dept. IG who reported on Monday that the federal government bears some of the responsibility for a lack of personal protective equipment, ventilators and testing kits at hospitals across the country; and his removal on Tuesday of the longtime, well-respected career Pentagon and State Department IG who was recently elected by his peers as chair of the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency as he was set to oversee the Administration's distribution of $2.2 trillion recently allocated by the emergency coronavirus relief bill enacted just over one week ago.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report with the brightest and best news of the day. And none of it is good either.

As the WI Lt. Governor said: Welcome to the Shit Show!...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guests: Filmmakers Simon Ardizonne and Russell Michaels...
By Brad Friedman on 4/3/2020 6:50pm PT  

Today, we devote the bulk of The BradCast to HBO's new documentary film, released just last week and considered important enough that the premium cable channel is now making it available, for free, through May 25th on their YouTube channel right here. (You can also watch a number of clips, teasers and extras from the film here.) [Audio link to today's full program is posted below.]

The new film is called Kill Chain: The Cyber War on America's Elections and it comes from the team who created the landmark, Emmy-nominated 2006 HBO doc Hacking Democracy.

The climax of that earlier film (you can watch just that key scene right here) featured the first known on camera hack of a Diebold optical-scan vote tabulation system, which changed the results of a mock election in which one question was asked on the ballot: "Can Diebold's optical-scan vote tabulators be hacked?" The votes, as we see them cast in the film on hand-marked paper ballots by Election Integrity advocates including Bev Harris of Black Box Voting in the office of then Leon County, Florida Supervisor of Elections Ion Sancho, are clearly 6 'NO' and 2 'YES'. But when the paper ballots are run through the tabulator, the results reported back by the computer are 1 'NO' and 7 'YES'. The tabulator had been hacked and only a hand-count of the hand-marked paper ballots would ever have revealed that it was, had it happened in an actual election. (Needless to say, almost no paper ballots are hand-counted by humans after elections in the U.S., including the 2016 Presidential election, to assure the computers are reported accurate results.)

The manipulation of the system at the time was carried out by legendary Finish cybersecurity and voting system expert Harri Hursti, who is the central character in this new follow-up film. It follows Hursti as he uncovers new and persistent revelations proving that U.S. elections remain far more vulnerable than many realize, and arguably no safer or more secure from manipulation --- by foreign or domestic actors --- than they were during the making of the 2006 film or even since the 2016 Presidential election. (Yes, the same optical-scanners hacked in the 2006 film are still in use in states around the country in 2020!) All of that, despite assurances from the U.S. Intelligence Community and bipartisan U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee that Russia attempted to access elections systems in all 50 states in 2016 --- when Donald Trump is said to have won by a razor thin margin in three states that hadn't voted for a Republican candidate in decades. Those same institutions continue to warn us that Russia plans to do the same in 2020, though as the film shows, it does not take a nation-state in order to do so.

We're joined for today's special edition of The BradCast by SIMON ARDIZZONE and RUSSELL MICHAELS, the British directors of both 2006's Hacking Democracy as well as, with Sarah Teale, the follow-up Kill Chain out this week from HBO. We share a number of clips from the new film, which features at its climax a chilling interview with a foreign hacker, shot in silhouette, who explains that, before the 2016 election, he was able to take complete control of Alaska's entire election system --- from its online voter registration database to its vote tabulation system. The hacker, who goes by the name 'CyberZeist', claims he was able to gain access to every user name and password on the system and obtain root access to change anything he might have wanted to. "I could have made any changes in the system, like deleting the candidates. I could kick anyone out. I could alter any date, any vote." he claims. "It was such a rush that, at that particular moment, I felt like I was the God."

Ardizzone and Michaels offer insight on CyberZeist and why they believe his allegations to be very credible. But there are many other disturbing allegations and evidence to support them presented before that point in the movie, including Ion Sancho's reflections and continuing concerns 16 years after the first film, as he reports on the mandatory secret meeting that all Florida election supervisors were summoned to after the 2016 election, regarding a hack of VR Systems, the contractor which runs the voter registration system in the Sunshine State and others as well. That is the company --- and the spearfishing operation --- described in documents leaked to media in 2017 by DHS whistleblower Reality Winner, who is still serving 5 years in federal prison for having done so.

We also witness disturbing evidence of chicanery in the 2018 Gubernatorial election in Georgia, which was overseen by its eventual "winner" Brian Kemp. He served as Secretary of State at the time, responsible for programming the state's unverifiable touchscreen voting systems and creating the electronic access cards needed to vote on it. The filmmakers were there and had their cameras rolling on Election Day in 2018 when those voter access cards failed, leading to hours-long lines to vote in one of the state's most Democratic-leaning counties. Kemp would eventually be named the winner of the election by little more than 1% over popular Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams.

Longtime BRAD BLOG readers and BradCast listeners are likely to recognize a number of the featured players in the film, as many of them have been repeated guests on the program over the years. Ardizonne and Michaels share a number of insights on the making of the film today, such as why it took 14 years to follow-up the previous one and the mysteriously huge interest in the original online just before the 2016 election; they offer additional details on several disturbing discoveries made by hackers at DefCon's Voting Village in Las Vegas; they discuss how the private voting system vendors responded to invitations from the filmmakers to tell their sides of the story in the movie; what the reaction has been from law enforcement officials to CyberZeist's revelations since the film's premier last week; whether they believe the 2016 election results were legitimate; whether a move to Vote-by-Mail during the coronavirus crisis will help avoid any of these problems in 2020; and why the film is titled Kill Chain.

"We, actually, in a way, didn't want to make [Kill Chain," Ardizzone tells me. "The reason we made it was because we noticed a really sudden uptick in the number of people who were watching Hacking Democracy online. And a lot of our contacts started to get back in touch with us, saying, 'You know, even though you made that film, the problems are still there, and they're kind of worse now.' And this was before the elections in November 2016."

"I believe, to this day, no individual voting machines [from 2016] have been subpoenaed, sequestered and cyber-investigated by the Department of Homeland Security," Michaels says. "The scientists are screaming out, saying this is completely insecure, you must stop doing it. As far as I'm aware, no one is going to stop doing it in 2020. It's still going full steam ahead."

Of course, there is much much more. I believe you'll want to tune in for this conversation today.

Finally, we close today with a bit of listener mail regarding the ongoing and upcoming election disaster now underway in Wisconsin which is still set to hold its Presidential Primary this Tuesday. That, despite the global coronavirus pandemic, a statewide stay-at-home order issued by the Governor, a lack of poll workers willing to risk death by working the polls, and a flood of absentee ballot requests and incoming mail ballots that officials are finding impossible to keep up with given their current lack of resources.

If any bad guys out there were hoping to cause havoc and chaos in the American electoral system, well mission accomplished! Hopefully it won't result in too many people actually dying in Wisconsin, where the state's Republican-controlled legislature has repeatedly refused the Democratic Governor's pleas to postpone the election or change it to an all Vote-by-Mail election...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Staggering unemployment numbers; McConnell tells Pelosi to 'stand down' from new relief measure; WI set to hold deadly vote on Tuesday...
By Brad Friedman on 4/2/2020 6:59pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Yes, it is as bad as we warned it would be. And it is getting even worse. And the way some state officials are now behaving, even upcoming elections may be unable to reverse much of this madness. [Audio link to full program is posted at end of summary.]

On Thursday, the U.S. Labor Department released gobsmacking statistics revealing that a record 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits in the past week. That follows more than 3 million doing so the week before. Both weeks blow to smithereens the previous all-time record high for weekly jobless claims since such records have been kept. That numbers was of 695,000, as set in 1982. We are quickly blowing past the disastrous economic tailspin of the 2008 Great Recession and moving into Great Depression territory.

In response, House Dems are attempting to move to another relief bill, in the form of a $2 trillion infrastructure plan to follow up last week's $2.2 trillion stimulus/corporate bailout bill. But Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is, so far, rejecting Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's proposal to do so, while telling her to "stand down" as the GOP does nothing instead. That, as NBC News reports today that Americans may be waiting as long as five months for the paltry $1,200 check promised them by last week's emergency relief bill.

But, of course, Congressional Republicans aren't doing absolutely nothing. McConnell has vowed to continuing packing the federal courts with unqualified judges, even among this disaster. And several GOP members of the House and Senate are proposing a bill to punish those who disseminated false information about coronavirus or who profited from it --- so long as those people are from other countries. Luckily, Donald Trump's months of repeated and purposeful and deadly disinformation that he and his Administration fed to the American people about the pandemic is all cool! So, apparently, are any U.S. Senators who may have profited from early information about the virus by trading millions of dollars of stock based on insider information, including Senators Richard Burr (R-NC) and Kelly Loeffler (R-GA). Presumably, they will not be held to account by the GOP's proposal to punish anyone who "financially benefits from acts intended to deliberately conceal or distort information about a public health emergency of international concern."

In the House, at the same time, Pelosi has announced the formation of a new bipartisan Select Committee to oversee the Trump Administration's response to the pandemic and its use of the $2 trillion allocated by last week's relief package. The committee, she says, will have subpoena power. So, if there are any questions the panel may have for members of the Administration dolling out that record amount of tax payer funds, we're certain that all of the President's men will undoubtedly respect any lawful Congressional subpoena they may receive.

Meanwhile, we continue to keep our eyes on how to help to begin to end many of these ongoing nightmares, somehow, via the ballot box. Toward that end, the Democratic National Committee announced they are postponing their national nominating convention, previously scheduled for Milwaukee, Wisconsin in July, back to August instead, in hopes that it will be possible to gather in person by that time (it likely will not be.) It would be held the week before Republicans plan to hold theirs in Charlotte, North Carolina, which Trump has vowed to hold with delegates gathered in person in the final week of August.

But, we're still in utter disbelief that Wisconsin is actually --- seriously --- going to hold their Presidential Primary, statewide Supreme Court election and municipal contests NEXT TUESDAY on April 7, despite, as we noted yesterday, the ongoing unprecedented health emergency, statewide stay-at-home order, and "a massive shortage of poll workers across the state, with more than 100 communities having no poll workers at all as of [this past Tuesday, and] an overall shortage of some 7,000 workers in 60% of the state's municipalities."

As we reported Wednesday, the only thing set to stop this madness with both the state's Democratic Governor and Republican heads of the state House and Senate also on board, is a federal lawsuit filed by voting rights advocates. Well, U.S. District Judge Mark M. Conley issued his ruling on Thursday, declining to postpone the election, while making clear that though he disagrees with the state's decision to move forward, he does not have the authority to postpone it due to a health emergency in which, he suggested correctly, residents could die. "That may be something that happens," he said during closing arguments, adding "that would be outside my jurisdiction. But it will be on the hands of the legislature and the governor."

Yes, it will. Judge Conley did, however, extend a few deadlines for absentee balloting, which has also reportedly already overwhelmed local elections officials who are having trouble keeping up with incoming ballots as well as sending out a record number of requested ballots. The Wisconsin Election Commission has already stated that it is very likely, barring a legislative change by the Republican-controlled legislature, that many votes will not be able to be counted at all in time for the state's statutory deadline. Republicans appear to be very happy about that. Conley suggested he may rule again, if voting rights are seen as imperiled on Election Day.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with the U.N. cancelling its critical upcoming climate conference due to the corona virus pandemic; a bankrupt U.S. coal company attempting to pass its obligations to retired miners over to tax payers instead; several states use the COVID-19 crisis as an excuse to pass laws criminalizing pipeline protests; and Trump's Interior Dept. keeps national parks open despite worker illnesses and their pleas to close the parks in the name of public safety...

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Guest: Former health insurance exec Richard 'RJ' Eskow; Also: Depth of unprecedented crisis slowly coming to light despite 'World of Pure Imagination' from White House to Wall Street...
By Brad Friedman on 4/1/2020 6:31pm PT  

On today's BradCast: We are finally beginning to hear, at least from some in the media, about the unprecedented and nearly inconceivable depth of the crisis that coronavirus will wreak on both the lives of Americans and the U.S./world economy. But, for the moment, it's already wreaking havoc on the Presidential Primary election astonishingly still scheduled for this Tuesday in Wisconsin! And, in not unrelated news, employee health care plans, so zealously guarded during the peak of the Democratic Presidential Primary earlier this year, may have actually helped make the pandemic worse than it needed to be in the U.S. [Audio link to full show is posted at bottom of article.]

First up, Florida's mini-Trump Governor Ron DeSantis finally gave up the Fox "News" denial ghost on Wednesday and issued a statewide Stay-at-Home order for the Sunshine State. How many lives might have otherwise have been saved had he acted sooner, as health experts had been long imploring, remains to be seen.

But it's not only Republican Governors who appear in denial about the issue. Wisconsin's Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, while responsibly issuing a statewide Stay-at-Home order on March 24, has nonetheless been supportive of the state holding its Presidential Primary, statewide Supreme Court election and municipal contests as scheduled NEXT TUESDAY, on April 7, in the middle of a global pandemic! (Not to mention amid his own Stay-at-Home order!) While Evers says that only the Republican-majority legislature has the legal authority to postpone it or mandate an all-mail election, state GOPers have agreed with the Governor's plan to move forward as scheduled. The result is already catastrophic.

There is a massive shortage of poll workers across the state, with more than 100 communities having no poll workers at all as of yesterday, with an overall shortage of some 7,000 workers in 60% of the state's municipalities. Evers has now called in the National Guard to work the polls, but it appears to be too little too late. The matter now comes down to the decision of a federal judge as to whether to postpone or not, as the Wisconsin Election Commission argues that large numbers of absentee ballots may never arrive in time for voters, and might never be counted at all, due to a simultaneous deluge of incoming absentee ballots that officials appear wildly unprepared to handle.

I only hope that the more than twenty states which have postponed their primaries (somewhat optimistically) to May or June are taking note of the ongoing meltdown in the Badger State, and that all 50 states get to work NOW to figure out how to safely, transparently and accurately manage the likely need for Vote-by-Mail elections across the nation for the never-more-critical Presidential election on November 3rd.

As we have been trying to underscore in recent days, the effect of the novel coronavirus is likely to be far more extensive --- both medically and economically --- than almost anybody has been discussing out loud, especially our national leaders and the media. Donald Trump and his White House have, of course, been in criminally obscene denial from the jump, but members of Congress and even presumptive Democratic Presidential Nominee Joe Biden have not been much better at telling the truth to the American people about how deeply devastating this crisis is going to be to the economy and how long it is likely to continue.

Today, the New York Times finally began doing so, a bit, in two different articles. One from Jim Tankersley reveals that top White House economists on the National Security Counsel warned about exactly this scenario in a study published last September, long before Trump and his public-facing economic team repeatedly lied to the media about the virus being under control and no threat to the economy. The other Times piece, from reporter Peter Goodman, details how the economic downturn is likely to continue "into next year, and even beyond" and why the almost certainly lengthy "abrupt halt of commercial activity threatens to impose economic pain" that could take years to recover from in what is shaping up to be "a financial crisis of cataclysmic proportions". One result, according to a recent analysis by the St. Louis Fed, is that as many as 47 million Americans could find themselves unemployed soon. (That amounts to an approximately 32% jobless rate, compared to 25% during the Great Depression and 10% in the 2008 Great Recession.)

So, how are those employer-based health care plans looking right about now for millions of Americans who have already or are about to lose both their jobs AND their health care insurance? At the height of the still-ongoing Democratic Primary, the case was made by candidates like Joe Biden and Pete Buttigeig and Amy Klobuchar that such plans were just too good for Americans to give up in favor of a single-payer, government-funded, cradle-to-grave, Medical-for-All type plan, like that proposed by Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. But our guest today, former healthcare insurance executive turned political columnist and host of The Zero Hour, RICHARD 'RJ' ESKOW, argues at The American Prospect that the structure of many of those employer-based plans --- and the way most such coverage has been structured since the 1980s in the U.S. --- may have resulted in the pandemic's spread being worse than it might otherwise have been in this country, were it not for "a plot twist worthy of H.G. Wells".

Eskow explains how the timing of the viral spread in the U.S. --- at the beginning of the year, instead of year's end, after costly deductibles may have already been covered by many --- might have prevented thousands from seeking care earlier.

"You have 70%, according to polls, of Americans saying they don't have $1000 on hand for an emergency, and you have deductibles on average that are higher than that," he says. "Most people don't meet their deductibles in the first quarter of the year. The pandemic struck in the first quarter of the year. They literally have to pay 100% out-of-pocket at this point. Maybe they'll get reimbursed someday, but remember, they don't have the cash on hand. So we have a situation where people almost certainly are not getting checked out as quickly as they should be, which is promoting the spread of the disease and worsening the progression of the disease for people who have it."

He also details how the cost-sharing structures of most "health benefit plans" --- requiring co-pays, deductibles, premiums and other out-of-pocket "cost sharing" expenses, as implemented by employers and health insurance companies to actually discourage care-seeking ("skin in the game", as many have referred to the concept over recent decades) --- has further helped to unnecessarily worsen the crisis in a way that a Medicare-for-All styled system might have helped to avoid.

Eskow, who served as a Senior Writer and Editor for Sanders' 2016 Presidential campaign, also discusses what effect, if any, all of this may be having on the Vermont Senator's insistence on remaining in the race until a nominee is officially chosen, somehow, at some version of a Democratic National Convention this year...

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Also: Good news and bad on COVID-19; Trump says the quiet part about voter suppression out loud; and more calls from the Coronaverse...
By Brad Friedman on 3/30/2020 6:25pm PT  

On today's BradCast: We've got a boatload of news and more listener calls from the Coronaverse today, as Republicans continue to try and game this year's elections, even amid a global pandemic. (Priorities, ya know!) [Audio for today's show is posted below.]

We start with a quick review of some of the news from over the weekend, as Trump finally gave up the ghost on his idiotic threat of reopening the country on Easter (April 12), even though has no authority to reopen something that he hasn't closed in the first place. Instead, it appears he's finally heard the advice from his medical experts such as Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx that 100,000 to 200,000 Americans will die even "if we do things almost perfectly" and shut everything down (which we haven't yet in many places, though a number of additional states, under pressure, finally issued stay-at-home orders on Monday, including Arizona, Maryland and Virginia.) So Trump has reluctantly extended "federal guidance" to call for social distancing through the end of April for now.

But, there are a few glimpses of potentially good news --- as thin as the threads may be --- coming from South Korea, Seattle and California today, if otherwise grim case numbers and death continue to increase across the country and world. That "good news" finds that yes, social distancing does appear to be working. At least for now.

All of which underscores that this is likely to go on much longer than officials are currently making clear, or have any really plans for, particularly with absolutely nobody --- nobody --- steering the ship at the national level.

And, in turn, that underscores the importance of this year's Presidential election, as if Trump's appearance on Fox "News" this morning saying the quiet parts out loud didn't already give the game away. In complaining about the $4 billion that Democrats had hoped to include for improved security for running elections during a global pandemic in last week's $2.2 trillion stimulus/corporate bailout package, Trump told Fox: "They had things, levels of voting that if you ever agreed to it you'd never have a Republican elected in this country again." Well, there ya go. He just said out loud that if everyone was allowed to vote in this country, Republicans would be in big, big trouble. He gets something right every now and again, but its usually the things that he's not supposed to be saying.

New York, with the most concentrated health emergency and most cases in the nation right now, has finally postponed its planned April 28 Presidential primary to June 23. But, as Wisconsin Republicans are cool with the state's plan to hold its election next week (April 7!), and as Georgia's Republican Sec. of State has come up with a scheme to pretend to be doing the right thing by sending absentee ballot applications to "active" voters (not all voters, just ones he deems as active), Ohio's GOP legislature and Governor aren't even trying to hide their contempt for democracy.

Despite OH's Republican Sec. of State Frank LaRose stating clearly that "No date before June 2nd is logistically possible" to hold Ohio's rescheduled primary, the Republican-controlled legislature passed a bill last week to hold it a month earlier on April 28. Moreover, LaRose's suggestion to send a postage-paid absentee ballot application to all registered voters was also ignored. Instead, the legislation --- now signed by Governor Mike DeWine --- requires the Sec. of State to send a postcard to every voter letting them know how to get an absentee application themselves (and, unconstitutionally, find postage needed to mail it back in.) Furthermore, all of that has to happen, plus ballots must get to those voters with time to send it back postmarked by April 27. Good luck Ohio voters! It wouldn't be an election year with a voting disaster in the Buckeye State! That, even after the Republican Sec. of State has already stated that plan is not "logistically possible"! In short, Ohio is demonstrating to the country how NOT to reschedule elections during a pandemic...unless your actually hope, like the President's, is to keep "levels of voting" as low as possible in hopes of helping Republicans win elections. Voting Rights groups in Ohio: Start your lawsuits!

Finally, we open up the phones to stay-at-homers to say hello and for any good news stories they may have to offer. We find a "Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" instead, a bit of good news, and some much less than good news. But we hope you find it to be a good show nonetheless, to help keep you company at home while become a smarter world citizen in the bargain...

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More states postpone primaries; WI refuses to delay April 7 vote; GA SoS up to old tricks; Jobless claims skyrocket amid coronavirus pandemic...
By Brad Friedman on 3/26/2020 6:44pm PT  

On today's BradCast: With the frantic, if justifiable, move towards Vote-by-Mail in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, one shouldn't underestimate the GOP scheming going on right now to figure out how to make sure that their efforts at vote suppression can continue none the less. [Audio link to show follows below.]

That's especially true since broad Vote-by-Mail programs are likely to increase Democratic "turnout" in many, if not most jurisdictions. (That, even as many Democrats, for their part, are underestimating the amount of fraud that can happen with broad Vote-by-Mail programs if safeguards are not carefully instituted. Such precautions are easy, given the rushed deadlines and lack of needed funding and manpower in most jurisdictions right now.)

Our elections this year are most definitely in peril. Even as many states have now rescheduled primaries, optimistically, until June 2nd. Georgia has rescheduled its primaries for May 19 (the date which was originally scheduled to hold Kentucky's primary as well, though they have smartly pushed theirs further down the road).

Perhaps most troubling of all at the moment, Wisconsin will hold primaries and a state Supreme Court election on April 7! That just over a week and a half from today, despite the Governor having shut down all non-essential businesses and ordering residents to stay-at-home through at least April 24! Election officials in several Badger State jurisdictions are complaining they will be unable to find enough pollworkers (resulting in much longer --- and dangerous --- lines); at least one major city is suing, declaring it "functionally impossible" to carry out the election while allowing voters and pollworkers to maintain necessary social distancing; and the County Clerk in for the state's capital (in one of the most Dem-leaning counties in the state) is seeing voters threatened with legal challenges if they follow his advice to declare themselves "indefinitely confined" in order to request an absentee ballot online without uploading a Photo ID, which many seniors are finding difficulty to do.

Nonetheless, the state's Democratic Governor is allowing the April 7 elections to move forward, and the Republicans in the state legislator --- who would be needed to take action in order to postpone it or change it to an all-VBM election --- are applauding the Governor. Now why would they do that?

In Georgia, meanwhile, don't be fooled by the Republican Sec. of State's lofty, high-minded explanation for mailing an absentee application to every "active" voter in the state. While that might otherwise be a very good thing, what about all of those voters who are still registered and eligible to vote this year, even if they have been marked "inactive" by the same Secretary of State?

None of this is particularly encouraging. Though neither is the fact that a record 3.28 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits this past week, shattering the decades-old record of 695,000, with likely many more who were not able to file this past week because state websites and phone systems were overwhelmed, crashing and freezing up.

But, don't worry. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says the quintupling of the all-time weekly unemployment record is "not relevant", thanks to the emergency stimulus bill passed by the Senate 96 to 0 on Wednesday night and now waiting for passage in the House, most likely on Friday. Of course, it's not only Mnuchin misleading Americans on behalf of the Trump Administration, the New York Times did a pretty good job of it as well recently.

All of which should serve as a reminder of the importance of supporting independent local journalism, with alt-weeklies dropping like flies (with no ad revenue to support them since restaurants, theaters, concerts, and other social gatherings are mostly shut down), even as their online readership is way up during the crisis, and local, non-commercial, listener-supported radio stations also having a similarly difficult time keeping their transmitters humming during this pandemic.

We discuss all of that and more today, before closing with Desi Doyen's latest Green News Report, which, along with some good and bad news on the stimulus bill and some bad news about the Trump Administration's continuing rollback of public safety regulations even during the crisis, actually includes some bona fide good news from a federal court regarding the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's ongoing battle against the Dakota Access Pipeline...

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Guest: Montgomery County, MD Dep. Election Dir. Alysoun McLaughlin; Also: Progressive U.S. House candidate wins in IL; With all market gains since inauguration gone, Trump declares self a 'wartime president'...
By Brad Friedman on 3/18/2020 7:03pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Former Vice President Joe Biden trounced Bernie Sanders in three more states on Tuesday. The coronavirus pandemic continued to spread as all of the stock market gains since Donald Trump's inauguration were finally wiped out. And the nation's elections officials --- at least some of them --- began eyeing the need to move to Vote-by-Mail elections as a temporary mitigation for the foreseeable future. But is that a good idea? Are we ready for it? [Audio link to show is posted below below.]

First up, however, some good news, believe it or not! Marie Newman, a progressive challenger to far-right anti-abortion Democratic U.S. House Rep. Dan Lipinski, appears to have won her primary race against the conservative eight-term Congressman in Illinois 3rd Congressional district. The victory in the very "blue" suburbs of Chicago virtually guarantees Newman's election to the House in November, mirroring Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez' 2018 defeat of longtime (if less execrable) Democratic incumbent Joe Crowley in New York.

Beyond that, Biden appears to have delivered a thumping to Sanders in Florida, Illinois and Arizona, increasing his lead in the nominating contest to a seemingly insurmountable 300 delegates. All three states held low-turnout primaries on Tuesday amid warnings from health officials to avoid large gatherings, polling places that were closed or moved at the last minute, and a shortage of pollworkers due to cancellations in the wake of coronavirus concerns. Ohio, which was also supposed to vote on Tuesday, postponed its Presidential primary until June at the very last minute.

Both Biden and Sanders addressed supporters on Tuesday night via live Internet streams due to the cancellation of live rallies. They both focused mostly on actions needed to address the pandemic. Despite rumors throughout the day on Wednesday, and the cancellation of online digital ads, the Sanders campaign maintains that they are not suspending, but reassessing their campaign with three more weeks until the next scheduled primary, given all of the various states which have now postponed elections amid the COVID-19 crisis.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate finally passed an emergency relief measure adopted by the U.S. House last week to guarantee paid sick leave and expanded unemployment benefits to certain workers, while extending some food security programs, even as a FAR larger stimulus package will be required in response to the ongoing crisis, as markets fell again on Wednesday, reversing all of the gains since Trump took office. For his part, the President vowed to invoke the Defense Production Act to allow the federal government to commandeer private U.S. facilities to manufacturer various needed medical supplies such as masks and ventilators. With the economy in tatters and after weeks of bungled responses, Trump has now declared himself a "wartime president", even as he continues to attack his perceived political enemies and employ racist terms to describe the coronavirus pandemic.

Amid all of this, the nation's elections officials are turning their efforts toward quickly devising ways to safely hold upcoming primary elections as well as the general election in November. On Tuesday, the Governor of Maryland postponed the state's April 28 primary elections until June 2, but allowed the scheduled U.S. House Special Election to fill the Baltimore seat of the late Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings to proceed as an all-mail contest. Joining us today to discuss the efforts now underway to quickly move to Vote-by-Mail elections in Maryland (and elsewhere) is ALYSOUN MCLAUGHLIN, longtime Deputy Election Director for Montgomery County, MD. She also serves as Secretary on the Board of Advisors to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) and as Vice Chair of the National Association of Counties.

Following her Governor's executive order postponing the statewide primary while calling for an all-mail U.S. House Special Election next month, McLaughlin explains some of the many challenges officials face in turning to VBM elections in the state. "The way we see it, we don't have a choice. The way we see it, there's a whole lot of really challenging problems in conducting an election under these circumstances right now, and the best way for us to serve everyone --- and to serve everyone avoiding the kinds of stresses and strains that we saw on polling places on Tuesday --- is for us to mail everyone a ballot. And immediately that takes the pressure off of the polls. That allows us to deal with the fact that our workforce is so significantly diminished in staffing a polling place election."

She tells me that officials in all 24 counties in the state feel the move to mail every registered voter a ballot is necessary for the newly-reschedule primary, though the state Board of Elections will still need to approve the plan. At the same time, there are many challenges and concerns in turning to such a system, particularly in such short order. We discussed a number of them on yesterday's program and Washington Post's Cybesecurity 202 column detailed several more. I've laid out even more such concerns over many years counseling caution, as I have long opposed VBM elections except where voters were unable to vote at the polls on Election Day or where a jurisdiction forces voters to vote by unverifiable, unsecure --- and, yes, germy --- touchscreen voting systems at the polls. (Thankfully, Maryland, which, with Georgia, was first in the nation to adopt statewide touchscreen voting in 2002, no longer does so, having moved recently, and sensibly, to hand-marked paper ballots for all.)

My conversation with McLaughlin today highlights some of those concerns, including questions about signature verification which, she says, her state does not use at all in determining if absentee ballots are to be included in the tally or rejected from the count. It's an eye-opening and important discussion that we will, necessarily, continue to have, in hopes that states adopt new temporary election practices in line with recommendations from health experts, even while observing best practices required to make sure VBM elections are secure, inclusive and publicly overseeable...

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Guest: Legendary FL Election Supervisor Ion Sancho; Also: More states postpone primaries, consider moving to Vote-by-Mail; GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter sentenced to 11 months...
By Brad Friedman on 3/17/2020 6:52pm PT  

On today's BradCast: America continues to adjust to the pandemic, as the most critical election in our nation's history is now threatened by a virus, even as voters in three major states hit the polls on Tuesday. At least some of them did. [Audio link to show is posted at end of summary.]

We begin another bizarre day in the Coronavirus Era with just a spot of good news. California's wildly corrupt GOP Congressman Duncan Hunter, Jr., who, with his wife, was charged with more than 60 felonies, but pleaded guilty to just one in a deal last December after it became clear his wife would testify against him, was sentenced to 11 months in prison today. The couple had stolen as much as a quarter of a million dollars in campaign funds for personal luxuries during Hunter's six elected terms before he finally resigned in disgrace in January. He, along with New York's GOP Congressman Chris Collins (who was recently sentenced to 26 months for insider trading), were the first two members of the U.S. House to endorse Donald Trump's run for the Presidency.

And with that somewhat good news out of the way, it's on to the more disturbing news we must try and make sense of today. Even as Florida, Illinois and Arizona all decided to hold their Presidential primary elections on Tuesday amid quarantines, closures, lock-downs and social distancing directives, other states continued to take more responsible measures.

Ohio, which was also scheduled to vote on Tuesday, postponed their primary election today amid no small amount of chaos, with the state's Governor taking extraordinary measures to do so late Monday night after initially being blocked by a state court.

Maryland's Governor today announced that his state would join others, such as Louisiana, Georgia and Kentucky in postponing their primary until June. It was previously scheduled for April 28. They will, however, still hold the April 28 Special Election to fill the U.S. House seat left vacant by the late Democratic Congressman Elijah Cummings in Baltimore. That election, however, will now be an all Vote-by-Mail (VBM) election. That as other states consider either postponing or changing to all-VBM elections for the foreseeable future during the virus outbreak.

The affects of the pandemic were seen in all three states which voted today, including poll closures, low turnout, and shortages of poll workers, many of whom are elderly and the most susceptible to the worst affects of the virus. Hundreds of them in South Florida, for example, decided to cancel at the last minute rather than be exposed to hundreds of people all day in crowded polling locations left open despite the CDC's recommendation to avoid all crowds larger than 10 at this time.

We're joined today by a guest well-accustomed to both chaos and elections. ION SANCHO is Leon County (Tallahassee), Florida's former longtime Supervisor of Elections as well as a champion voting rights advocate and opponent of private voting system vendors. During his nearly 30 years as one of the state's (and nation's) most respected election officials, he has held elections amid hurricane catastrophes and political ones. He was tapped by his fellow state officials in 2000 to oversee the eventually-aborted Presidential election recount between Al Gore and George W. Bush. Sancho has plenty of thoughts and insight to offer today amid the current chaos and challenges now faced by elections officials and voters alike. We discuss the likely necessity of all states moving to VBM elections for the duration of the crisis, and the steps that need to be taken to ensure such elections are carried out with integrity.

"The entire primary and elections process is going to have to be re-examined, given this crisis," he tell me. "This pandemic provides a challenge like no other in my lifetime. Mail ballots may be the way out of this, but mail ballots require machinery. Mail ballots require high-speed counting devices. It can be done, and it can be done excellently, but it can't be done cheaply. So if that's something we're going to need to go to, we're need to prepare for that." He warns that voters, many of whom do not bother to change their address on their registration when they move within a county, should check their registration record to assure it's up to date immediately, or else they risk not receiving a ballot at all, when and if states begin moving to VBM.

And while money will need to be spent to transition to high-speed optical-scanners to tally hand-marked mail-in paper ballots in many locations, the cost and benefits would still be far greater for voters than in jurisdictions such as Georgia which recently spent more than $100 million dollars for new equipment that will force all voters at the polls to vote on new, germy, unverifiable, touchscreen voting systems which violate voters' privacy by revealing secret ballots to everyone in the polling place. "The COVID-19 virus may be a blessing in disguise for the citizens of Georgia," Sancho explains. "Using a hand-marked paper ballot system is not only more secure, it's three to ten times more inexpensive to operate and maintain."

But in addition to money, guidance will be needed on the federal level to ensure a move to mail-in voting is done in a way that doesn't disenfranchise voters, since, he explains, it is so much easier for VBM ballots to be rejected by officials for dubious reasons and without notifying voters so that they have sufficient time to cure any perceived deficiencies on their ballots. VBM would be a "fair solution [during this crisis] if you have fair elections administration. Jurisdictions like Oregon, for example, which has pioneered mail voting in the United States, provide 14 days for an individual to present themselves to cure a problem, a deficiency, in the mail ballot. States like Arizona, Washington and California provide 2-3 weeks of days to allow the voter to cure a problem. Then you run into states like Florida, that had to be sued to allow voters to cure their ballot after the election. The deadline for Florida to cure all deficiencies --- so how could you know about it? --- is the day before the election."

While some elections officials, he believes, would be careful to institute best practices, others, he warns, would not. "They don't concern themselves with how actual machinery is working in other places. They just depend upon their voting vendor to tell them what to do. We don't really have any kind of mechanism nationally to provide the best practices, to give guidance. Our national elections administration is a debacle," he says, along with much more that you'll want to hear.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, as the coronavirus epidemic has now cleared the air in both China and Italy, at least as far as toxic greenhouse gas emissions go, and has given Donald Trump yet another excuse to try and shore up the oil industry amid crashing prices. And, though much of it has now been lost to time and the global pandemic, we also examine the substantive debate on Sunday night between Democratic Presidential candidates Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders regarding our climate crisis...

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Coronavirus, lack of leadership, wreak dangerous havoc on country and economy amid most important Presidential election in nation's history...
By Brad Friedman on 3/16/2020 5:57pm PT  

To quote Donald Trump when he thought the cameras had stopped rolling after his disastrous Oval Office address last week: "Oooookaaay...." So, we are now living in a new world. For the time being. Millions are being instructed to stay home from work. Markets are tanking. Major states and cities are shutting down schools, restaurants, bars, clubs, theaters and casinos. Some are instituting full "stay at home" lock-down orders. And Congress is scrambling to pass emergency legislation to try and help displaced workers and families as the coronavirus crisis threatens to shut down the nation entirely for weeks, months or longer. All of this amidst a Presidential election under the most dangerously inept and dishonest Administration in the history of the nation.

On today's BradCast, we try to get you caught up with the unfolding, bizarre and disorienting mess that we are all going through together in hopes of "flattening the curve" of the rate of infections to try and ensure that the U.S. hospital system doesn't become overwhelmed with patients. Like you, we have no idea how this is supposed to work, but we're all working through it together, even as Trump literally told the nation's Governors today they are on their own in coming up with enough respirators and other medical equipment to keep their residents alive, and as he continues to lie to the country about the availability of testing and eventual arrival date of a vaccine (which is most likely more than a year from now, even as a single live test began today).

And, speaking of that Presidential election, states --- particularly those which are touchscreen-voting heavy, like Louisiana, Georgia and Ohio --- are beginning to announce postponements of their primary elections. Ohio's Governor has attempted to do so before tomorrow's planned election that was to be held along with Florida, Illinois and Arizona. But a state judge, late today (minutes ago, justt after we got off air) has now blocked the Republican Ohio Governor's attempt to postpone. So, full-on chaos for a change in the Buckeye State tonight. The other three big states (at least at this hour) are planning to go through with their own elections tomorrow, even as polling sites at senior citizen centers are requiring last-minute relocation and frequently-elderly poll workers are (justifiably) calling in to cancel.

Other states, such as New York are considering postponement, while Maryland considers moving to all-Vote-by-Mail primaries. More than a dozen states, such as Texas, do not even currently offer no-excuse absentee voting. That needs to change. [CORRECTION: I had initially cited Pennsylvania as one of those states that do not allow no-excuse absentee voting. In fact, no-excuse absentee voting was instituted late last year as part of a package of election reforms in the Keystone State. My apologies for the error!]

We cover all of that AND wave very briefly at Sunday's Presidential Debate (which we hope to revisit in a bit more detail soon - but we'll see) before opening the phones to check in with callers today, including one from Minneapolis who describes the situation there as dire, others from Southern California who wonder where the head of the CDC has disappeared to, and another who questions both the threat and infection numbers currently being reported. All of that and way too much more on today's BradCast...

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Prime-time Oval Office speech goes disastrously, markets plunge, almost all gains under Trump wiped out, major league seasons called off, Biden and Sanders step up, even as critical elections threatened by virus...
By Brad Friedman on 3/12/2020 6:43pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Donald Trump's error-laden prime-time speech to the nation from the Oval Office on Wednesday night did little to ease the nation's anxieties over the coronavirus pandemic. In fact, it appears to have made things much worse in a number of ways.

The Dow Futures market plummeted as his remarks began, with the DJI closing down more than 2,300 points on Thursday. In all, after hitting a record high just weeks ago, the markets have lost nearly 90% of the gains they've seen since Trump took office in January of 2017. One more day like this and all of those gains will be lost. So much for "rocket fuel to the economy".

Fortunes on Wall Street, however, may be the least of the country's problems right now. Trump's announcement on Wednesday night called for a travel ban from all European countries other than the United Kingdom (for reasons that no one seems able to explain) and for the payroll tax cut he's been seeking for months (long before the virus), which few experts believe will be much help amidst this worsening epidemic. Moreover, no sooner did Trump finish his teleprompter remarks than the White House had to begin issuing corrections to them. No, trade and cargo would not actually be banned from Europe, as Trump claimed, and the health insurance industry didn't actually agree to offer free coronavirus treatments to all as the Liar-in-Chief claimed Wednesday night.

Europe was blindsided by the announcement, and it was left to Democratic Presidential candidates Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders to try and calm an anxious nation today with their own speeches addressing the crisis as Trump continues to refuse to declare a national emergency because it would reveal he had lied about the epidemic for weeks. (And apparently he needs to get Jared's permission first.)

The NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball all announced they are suspending their seasons, the NCAA cancelled their March Madness tournaments, Disneyland will be closing their doors, and Tom Hanks announced that he and his wife Rita Wilson have both contracted COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

But what about the upcoming primary and general elections? Are we really going to continue asking voters to stand in long lines with hundreds of people to vote on potentially virus-infected touchscreen voting systems? As it turns out, hand-marked paper ballots still moist from hand-sanitizer also caused problems this week in New Hampshire's municipal elections, jamming optical-scan tabulators at precincts.

The U.S. Vote Foundation, led by former GOP Chair Michael Steele, is now calling on Congress to immediately pass legislation requiring every state in the union to allow no-excuse absentee/Vote-by-Mail ballots for all voters. And while I am no fan of Vote-by-Mail usually (other than in jurisdiction where voters are forced to vote on touchscreen voting systems at the polls), it's looking more and more like we are all going to be voting via VBM this year if the virus continues on its current trajectory.

We cover all of that and much more on today's show, before ending on a "lighter note"...with Desi Doyen and our latest Green News Report (which, believe it or not, actually has a quite a bit of welcome good news today...at least once we get past the coronavirus part of it anyway.)

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Guest: The Nation's John Nichols on the race after MI, WA, MO, MS, ND, ID; Also: Coronavirus threatening everything, including the 2020 election...
By Brad Friedman on 3/11/2020 6:33pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It was another big night for Joe Biden, as he appears to have been the clear winner in 4 of the 6 states (Michigan, Washington, Missouri, Mississippi, Idaho and North Dakota) which held Democratic Presidential primaries on Tuesday. But Bernie Sanders said on Wednesday that he is not out of the running just yet. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

In the meantime, the fallout from the coronavirus --- now officially a global pandemic according to the World Health Organization with more than 1,000 cases in the U.S. --- continues to have a growing affect on nearly every aspect of life in the U.S. and around the globe. Aside from school closures, town lock-downs, industries directing employees to work at home, cancellations of large festivals, conventions and now sporting events, including the NCAA's March Madness tournaments set to be played without spectators in the arena, the Dow took another tumble today, falling more than 1,400 points and ending the 11-year bull market begun under Obama in 2009.

We discuss all of that today, and the bumbling Trump Administration's egregious failures in managing the worsening epidemic, before breaking down the reported results from Tuesday's 6 primary states, where voters appear to have chosen Biden in MI, MO, MS and ID, while preferring Sanders in ND and maybe WA, where the Vermont Senator currently leads by a hair as Vote-by-Mail ballots continue to be tallied.

Once again, voters on Tuesday were forced to shamefully wait in hours-long lines to cast their ballots in locations in both Michigan and North Dakota, even as many voters on social media persist in forwarding unsupported charges that the DNC is somehow behind the numerous failures of local and state officials to run efficient, reliable, and publicly overseeable elections.

We share extended excerpts from Biden's remarks following his victories on Tuesday night, offered to a nearly empty hall in Philadelphia were coronavirus concerns resulted in only media and campaign staffers in attendance. And we also share Sanders' remarks from Vermont today, vowing to stay in the race at least through Sunday night's scheduled debate, the first head-to-head forum between the last two Democratic candidates still standing.

We are then joined by the great progressive journalist JOHN NICHOLS of The Nation to try and make some sense of this remarkable moment in history and the surprising state of play in the increasingly bizarre 2020 election. He argues that Sunday's one-on-one between the two candidates is likely to be "the most consequential debate of 2020," adding that he "suspect[s] it will matter more than the fall debates between Trump and whoever is nominated at this point, presumably Biden."

Citing Sanders' remarks on Wednesday, Nichols believes Sanders "left himself an exit ramp, and left Biden an entry ramp. Because he essentially told Biden what Biden's got to do" in order to win support from Sanders' movement. "I genuinely think that Sanders is proposing a debate where, if Joe Biden really steps up, he's going to narrow the lane for Bernie Sanders --- which is already narrow. If Joe Biden steps up, he's got a lot of opportunities here as an entry lane into the fall campaign [to]bring the movement on board and this will sort out."

Whether Biden seizes that moment, however, remains to be seen. His subdued and even Presidential remarks from Philadelphia on Tuesday certainly suggest he is capable of it. But we'll see. "Is he the right candidate?," Nichols asks rhetorically. "If you can't build your movement, your coalition, and you can only do it by kind of forcing people to make choices rather than inspiring or exciting people, then that's a problematic situation."

Among the other oddities and ironies of this moment, Nichols observes in his column today that while voters in MI, MO and MS voted for Biden on Tuesday, exit polls reveal that they actually support Sanders' central campaign proposal for single-payer Medicare for All by huge numbers in all three states. What explains that irony? Nichols offers his thoughts on that and much more on the state of the race in very dark times during our conversation today...

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50,000 touchscreens up in flames in Venezuela; E-Pollbooks fail in MO; Coronavirus causing probs for voters; GA must notify voters about rejected ballots; Dallas, TX to 'recount' missing Super Tuesday ballots...
By Brad Friedman on 3/10/2020 6:24pm PT  

Six more states are voting today (Michigan, Washington, Missouri, Mississippi, Idaho, North Dakota). We'll have results tomorrow, as we're still trying to figure out who actually won and lost, in some cases, last week on Super Tuesday, particularly in Texas and California. Nonetheless, today, like last week, has already revealed more problems with electronic pollbooks that resulted in voters leaving without voting, and there is more likely trouble on the horizon in several states set to vote in the next several weeks. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Among the stories covered on today's BradCast...

  • A fire at Venezuela's National Electoral Council warehouse over the weekend has resulted in the destruction of 50,000 touchscreen voting machines and 582 computers. We swear we didn't do it! The unverifiable voting machines in question have been used during questionable past elections and are made by Venezuelan-based Smartmatic...the same company with a dodgy background of failed elections who also made the new touchscreen voting systems which failed so disastrously in Los Angeles County on Super Tuesday last week. But, again, we didn't do it!;
  • Closer to home, voters today in St. Louis County --- Missouri's most populous --- were turned away from the polls for an hour or so this morning from at least 50 of the county's 400 polling places. Though St. Louis has finally moved to hand-marked paper ballots, they are using a print-on-demand system that uses electronic pollbooks (yes, more computers) to instruct the printers which ballot should be printed. Those e-pollbooks, apparently, were failing this morning until the company that makes them issued an update. In the meantime, there is also a manual print mode that pollworkers could have used to print ballots for voters when the e-pollbooks weren't working, but many appear to have not known that or just panicked and forgot. Also, in MO, Kansas City's African-American Mayor was turned away from the polls after his name was not found on the voting rolls. Later in the day, they figured out why;
  • Both Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden cancelled campaign rallies set for Ohio today (where early voting has already begun for next week's primaries in the Buckeye State), due to coronavirus concerns, in what may foreshadow still more trouble for this year's elections, including how to include enough hand-sanitizer for polling places, especially those which use touchscreens. (People can usually bring their own pens to polling places that use hand-marked paper ballots.) We may end up seeing Vote-by-Mail elections for the entire country this November if the virus continues to spread, despite the steady leadership of stable genius Donald Trump;
  • Some good news for voters (finally!) out of Georgia today, as the state has reached a settlement with the Democratic party in federal court that requires voters be immediately notified about absentee ballots that are rejected by county officials due to perceived signature mismatch or some other infirmity, allowing them time to come in and cure the problem so their votes may still be counted;
  • But there is also less good news out of Georgia, where last week's "good news story out of Georgia" was the fact that Athens-Clarke County's Board of Elections had voted to ditch the new, state-mandated unverifiable touchscreen voting systems for hand-marked paper ballots instead. The Board found that the touchscreens on the new Dominion ImageCast ballot marking devices (BMDs) were so large and bright that they violate voters constitutionally-mandated right to a secret ballot, as others could see how they were voting from 30 feet across the room, according to a related lawsuit filed in a separate GA county. But now, GA's Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has called an emergency hearing in Athens, charging that the County's Board is violating state law by not using the new, unverifiable voting systems. Now why would he want do that?;
  • Meanwhile, in Texas, ballot scans stored on 44 thumb-drives from the new Ballot Marking Device systems used for the first time during last week's Super Tuesday primaries in Dallas County apparently were not included in previously reported results. As many as 7,000 ballots could be missing from the current results. The County's Election Director was required to get permission from a court to "recount" the computer-marked ballots scanned in the county to include those previously left out of the count. A Dallas court, on Tuesday, gave permission to do so, but the order is limited to a computer-scan of the computer-marked paper ballots that were previously not included in last week's results;
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with news on the coronavirus and an oil price war, both affecting the stock market (and banks and fossil fuel-reliant communities) this week, a new troubling report on air pollution caused by fossil fuels, and some good news as New York state's disposable plastic bag ban finally kicks in...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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Trump's woeful coronavirus response as markets crater; Bullock to run for U.S. Senate in MT; Mop-up and blame game continues after L.A. County's Super Tuesday fail; Callers ring in...
By Brad Friedman on 3/9/2020 6:24pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Staying laser focused on the things that actually matter if we ever want to restore this nation and the world with it! [Audio link to show is posted below.]

The stock market cratered (again) on Monday, over fears about the quickly spreading coronavirus and plummeting oil prices. That, as the President of the United States tried to tweet away the problem while spending the weekend playing golf and throwing parties for his son's girlfriend at his Palm Beach resort before finding time on Monday to attend two fundraisers in Orlando as the Dow dropped more than 2,000 points, its largest one-day point drop ever and the worst crash seen on the markets since the 2008 global financial meltdown.

With the abysmal failure of this Administration to competently handle either ongoing crisis (and, in fact, make them both worse), we continue to focus on the only foreseeable way out of this disastrous mess: The November 2020 election. On that front, we've got both good news and bad, as usual, with 6 more states --- Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota and Washington --- set to vote tomorrow, even as mop-up from voting system failures and counting of votes continues from last week's Super Tuesday in 14 states.

Among the many stories covered on today's program before opening lines to callers with still more tales of horror from voting out here in Los Angeles County last week on our failed new touchscreen voting systems and electronic pollbooks...

  • Bernie Sanders supporter Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) said she would vote for Joe Biden if he becomes the nominee, and she recommends that you do too;
  • Montana's popular Democratic Governor Steve Bullock announces that he will jump into the race for U.S. Senate to unseat Republican Sen. Steve Daines after all, giving the Democrats a fifth potential takeover to win back a Democratic majority this November;
  • We share some listener email including a woeful story of failure at the polls here in Los Angeles last week, and from a regular listener in Oregon who can't understand why Los Angeles, which saw hours-long lines to vote at the County's new "Voting Centers" on Super Tuesday, doesn't go to an all Vote-by-Mail system (as used in the Beaver State now for two decades.);
  • California's Sec. of State Alex Padilla, who has been a big proponent of L.A.'s County's new $300,000,000 unverifiable touchscreen voting system over the past ten years, pretends to be outraged about what happened last week and directs L.A. to move to an all VBM system for the critical November election. However, Dean Logan, L.A. County's Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk, the man who spent the last ten years developing the new failed voting system, says he's not sure he thinks VBM for all would be a good idea;
  • And the Washington Post's Margaret Sullivan penned a landmark column on Sunday, charging "the media is blowing its chance to head off an Election Day debacle" by obsessing over "the horse-race" while ignoring "the very core of Election Day: voting itself". She excoriates the corporate media for failing to cover the many predictable disasters we saw last week in California and Texas until "after-the-fact" while ignoring "deeper issues such as the pressures and inducements for governments to invest in untried new voting machines" when "old-fashioned hand-marked paper ballots" are "the least hackable and the most audit-able". In short, her column sounds alot like just about every rant we've ever offered at either The BRAD BLOG or on The BradCast and spurs us to keep going...whether you like it or not. Thank you, Ms. Sullivan!;

While we've got a bunch of related stories about voting failures, dirty tricks and concerns out of Georgia, Texas, Florida and elsewhere, they'll have to wait until tomorrow's BradCast, as we wanted to open the lines to still more callers with woeful stories of their voting experiences at the Super Tuesday polls here in Los Angeles last week...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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